A legal dispute over the hit ABC series “black-ish” appears to be on its way to trial after a judge today refused to dismiss the case. Variety reports that the lawsuit accuses “black-ish” creator Kenya Barris of stealing the idea for the show from former writing partner Bryan Barber.
“Barber contends that he and Barris had an agreement in 2006 to develop a show for VH1 about a successful black TV writer working in a largely white environment,” Variety reports. “Barber, a music video director, contends that several years later, Barris developed the idea into ‘black-ish,’ violating their agreement to produce the show together. Barber filed suit in 2016, seeking writing credit and compensation.”
Attorneys for Barris sought to have the lawsuit thrown out, “but Judge Samantha Jessner issued a tentative ruling on Thursday denying their motion,” Variety reports. “In her ruling, Jessner noted several similarities between the scripts for the two shows. For instance, in both shows, the main character works in a media company’s ‘urban department,’ and both shows feature jokes about grape soda.”
Jessner writes in today’s ruling: “The court finds the similarities between the ‘Black-ish’ pilot and the ‘Untitled Original Script’ sufficient to reach a jury.”